The Gospel Observer (September 30, 2018)

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20, NASB).
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Contents:

1) Not Our Workmanship, But His (Bill Hall)
2) The Myth (Shane Williams)
3) What Makes the Difference? (Bill Crews)
4) Whose Orders? (Bob Hines)
5) News & Notes
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Phil1_6c

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Not Our Workmanship, But His
Bill Hall

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).

When one is baptized he becomes a new creation, but he is not the creation of any man. He is the workmanship of God.

He is not the workmanship of the person who converted him — not primarily, anyway. Man can teach, influence, persuade, and baptize; but only God can cleanse, and give him new life. He is God’s creation — God’s workmanship. Just as surely as no man could create an “Adam,” just that surely no man can create a new creature in Christ.

Neither is one self-made. In Christ, one does not lift himself “by his own bootstraps.” Christianity is not a “do-it-yourself religion” — not in the fullest sense. One does not effect his own salvation through his own merit. Rather, in obedience to the gospel and faithfulness as a Christian, he places himself as clay in God’s hand, to become the work of the divine Potter, who molds, shapes, and perfects him that he might be fashioned in the image of His Son.

He is the workmanship of God because his salvation is “by grace…through faith,” “the gift of” God (Ephesians 2:8,9). If one’s salvation were of meritorious works, he would not be the workmanship of God. This is the primary thrust of the passage.

The workmanship of God exists as a monument to the greatness of the Potter; as a beautiful painting is a monument to an artist, so a mature and perfected Christian is a monument to the marvelous power of God. Such a person is a product of God’s grace and exists for “the praise of His glory” (Ephesians 1:6,12,14; 3:14-19). That God could take a Peter, a John, a Saul of Tarsus, an Aquila, a Priscilla, a John Mark, and mold him or her into the lovely vessel each became is a manifestation of His greatness. That He could do the same for people this writer has known and observed equally manifests His greatness. That He can and will do the same for me if I will but submit myself to His care in humble obedience, trust, and prayer is the greatest marvel of all.

The workmanship of God must be handled with care. Such a person is special, precious, priceless to God. As one is cautious in handling a family heirloom or rare piece of pottery fashioned by the hands of a master, so we must be cautious in our treatment of that creation which is the work of God. “Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food,” Paul warned the Romans (Romans 14:20). That person toward whose tender conscience you are showing little regard or whose soul you are placing in jeopardy is the work of God. Love that person. Appreciate him. Be tender toward him. Recognize his value. Handle with care!

The workmanship of God must never be content until it is brought to perfection. “Finish then Thy new creation,” Charles Wesley wrote in his familiar hymn, “Love Divine.” In keeping with this, Paul could express his confidence in the Philippian Christians, “That He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6,7). Only those who remain in the Potter’s hands until brought to completion and perfection become vessels of honor. All others become marred and fit only for destruction (II Timothy 2:19-21).

Let not man, then, boast of himself. Self-righteousness has no place in the heart of a Christian. If any man boast, “let him glory in the Lord” (I Corinthians 1:31) and “in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Galatians 6:14). We are His workmanship.

— via Gospel Power, Vol. 13, No. 33, Aug. 13, 2006
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Woman caught in rain

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The Myth
Shane Williams

Once we decide to obey God completely, it’s easy to assume that the rest of our life will run smoothly. If it does, we think this proves that we’re doing God’s Will. If we run into obstacles, however, we’re quick to conclude that we must be doing something wrong or God is unhappy with us. Rather than question our measuring stick, we question our dedication, and sometimes even God.

It’s a myth to believe that if we obey God, everything will always go well. Being dedicated to God means going with Him even when things don’t go our way. In fact, as you consider the growth of the church in the first century, the Bible is clear that the gospel advanced during times of suffering.

Although Paul was imprisoned when he wrote to the Philippians, his adversity didn’t cause him concern. His objective was to preach the gospel and he didn’t question that goal just because he had been arrested. He made the most of the circumstances and continued to proclaim Jesus even to his captors. His imprisonment furthered the gospel!

“Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel, so that my imprisonment in the cause of Christ has become well known throughout the whole praetorian guard and to everyone else, and that most of the brethren, trusting in the Lord because of my imprisonment, have far more courage to speak the Word of God without fear” (Philippians 1:12-14).

How would you and I react if we were in Paul’s shoes? Would we question our faithfulness, God’s love for us, or perhaps question if there was even a God?

Don’t be fooled by the misleading notion that life will be easy if you obey God. God doesn’t always remove difficulties; He uses them for your good and for His glory.

— via The Lilbourn Light, Vol. 9, Nos. 4,5, Aug/Sept. 2008
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1John4_1b

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What Makes the Difference?
Bill Crews

* If a man has money and is not willing to have it examined, people think it is counterfeit.

* If a man is afraid to take a lie detector test, people think he is guilty of crime.

* If a man conducts a business and is unwilling to let anyone investigate it, folks think he is running a crooked business.

But, many preachers teach doctrines that under no circumstances will they test or allow to be tested by the Bible. Yet millions of people will accept them as upright, honest teachers of the truth, and will risk their salvation upon them. What makes the difference? The Bible instructs us to try the teachers (I John 4:1). The truth never fears investigation!

— Via La Vista church of Christ
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train1

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Whose Orders?
Bob Hines

Years ago I read notice of a horrible train wreck in which many people died painfully amid the twisted burning wreckage. The engineer was killed as well. But as he lay near death he showed those nearby a paper, saying, “Take this. It will show I was given the wrong orders.” And, they were the wrong orders. He had been on the wrong track, yet he was still dying, along with many others.

Friend, you have an eternal soul. What orders are you following: God’s, or man’s idea of religion? Make sure, because sincerity is not enough!

— via the Beacon, July 8, 2018
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News & Notes

We are glad that things went well for Doug Pennock last Wednesday when he underwent a procedure for an aorta aneurysm.

It is good to be out of the hospital. I (Tom Edwards) was admitted last Saturday (9/22), late afternoon, and was released Tuesday about 10 a.m.  I had sepsis, due to an urinary tract infection, probably caused by more than 5 weeks of using catheters.  (As of 9/30, it has now been about 6 weeks and 4 days.) The specific bug that caused the infection is called “klebsiella pneumoniae,” and for which I am now on antibiotics for 12 days.

Joyce Rittenhouse has recently been afflicted with Bell’s Palsy, which is affecting the right side of her face.  Let us pray that she will soon and speedily be healed.

I appreciate Danny Bartlett and Baxter Cribbs filling in for me while I was absent.  Due to their preaching last week — instead of today (the fifth Sunday of the month, when we give opportunity for two of the men to preach) — I will be doing the preaching for both worship services.

Let us continue to remember the loved ones of Richard Kristianson and Rick Hadley.  Also continue praying for Mary Aldrich, Roger Montgomery, Danny Hutchinson, Jim Lively, Shirley Davis,  Mary Vandevander, A.J. & Pat Joyner, Bennie & Deborah Medlock, Michelle Rittenhouse, Tommy Lindsey, Hannah Laughlin, and Misty Thornton.
——————–

The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation

1) Hear the gospel, for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30-31).
2) Believe in the deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9-10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3-4; Gal. 3:26-27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith, living for the Lord; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).
——————–

Tebeau Street
CHURCH OF CHRIST
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA  31501
Sunday services: 9:00 a.m. (Bible class); 10 a.m. & 5 p.m. (worship)
Tuesday: 2 p.m. (Ladies’ Bible class)
Wednesday: 7 p.m. (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (912) 614-8593
Tom@ThomasTEdwards.com
https://thegospelobserver.wordpress.com (Gospel Observer website with pictures in WordPress)
http://thomastedwards.com/go (Older version of Gospel Observer website without pictures, but back to March 1990)
http://tebeaustreetchurchofchrist.org/
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/audioser.html (audio sermons)

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The Gospel Observer (September 23, 2018)

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20, NASB).
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Contents:

1) The Obedience of Faith (Steve Dewhirst)
2) Save Yourselves (Terry W. Benton)
3) News & Notes
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Heb5_9c

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The Obedience of Faith
Steve Dewhirst

How odd, that one of the Bible’s most fundamental teachings should have become so puzzling to folks. God is not the author of confusion, but man is. And during the centuries since Jesus walked the earth, the very nature of the faith that saves has been obscured by an improper balance of principles.

Without controversy should be the straightforward declaration, “by grace you have been saved through faith…” (Ephesians 2:8). To deny the truth of the statement is to deny the gospel. But, as with other subjects, to isolate this verse to the exclusion of all others is to guarantee oneself the wrong perception. This verse surely tells us of salvation through faith, itself. We should never question that we are saved through faith, but we should certainly arrive toward a better understanding of what faith is and how it is expressed.

Faith can be defined as a deep, abiding trust and confidence in God — but to stop there is to leave the picture incomplete. It is this notion that faith is nothing more than the intellectual acknowledgment that God exists, that has led many to think that He makes no requirements of us. But that simply won’t square with Scripture. After all, Hebrews 5:9 says that Jesus is “the Author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him.” Now faith, or belief, is not the same as obedience. But obviously, weighing the principle of faith beside that of obedience should cause us to dig a little deeper into the nature of the faith that saves. Saving faith cannot exist in a vacuum. In other words, faith doesn’t exist as an isolated concept, separate from the life of the believer. Faith is a living, active ingredient of one’s character. It effects the believer’s conduct for good. James 2:14 poses two critical questions. “What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? That faith cannot save him, can it?” These are rhetorical questions; requiring no answer. A “faith” that does nothing cannot save anyone. Even demons believe that God exists (James 2:19), but no one believes they will be saved. No, faith needs something else to make it complete. James cites the example of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son to God and asks, “Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect?” (James 2:22).

So our earlier definition of faith needs to be amended. Faith is a deep, abiding trust and confidence in God, that creates a willingness to do what God says. Any definition of faith that excludes an obedient heart has failed to consider God’s Word completely. But just a note of caution is in order. Just as some men incorrectly deem faith to be a mental assent of God’s goodness, others ignore faith and believe that righteousness lies in obedience. Both views are woefully wrong. No one will ever be justified before God on the basis of his obedience, for no one’s obedience is perfect (Galatians 3:10,11; Romans 3:23). Obedience for the sake of “scoring points” with God is an exercise in futility. The only obedience God will accept is that which is born of our faith in Him. The obedience of faith is that service which is motivated by our trust that God knows best, and our desire to honor His Will. It is this faith that Paul advocates in his great epistle to the Romans. In introducing his theme, Paul says he has received grace and apostleship “unto the obedience of faith among all the nations” (Romans 1:5 ASV). Plainly put, Paul is working as an apostle in order to bring about the obedience which rightly stems from faith. Paul never taught “rote” obedience in keeping with a ritualistic traditionalism. Instead, Paul taught that we can only be saved by recognizing our sinfulness, seeking the grace and mercy of God, and coming to Him through a faith in Christ that is willing to meet His conditions of pardon.

Man’s salvation through faith shouldn’t be puzzling. The most natural thing in the world ought to be our willingness to obey the God in whom we have faith. If we have come to redemption through the sacrifice of God’s only Son, how can we fail to humble our spirits before His Word? A faith that refuses to obey is really no faith at all.

— via Gospel Power, Vol. 12, No. 17, April 24, 2005
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“By faith Noah, being warned by God about things not yet seen, in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his household…” (Heb. 11:7, NASB).
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Acts2_40

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Save Yourselves
Terry W. Benton

Only because of what Jesus did for us on the cross and only through knowledge of what He did can we engage in the activity of faith that will result in our salvation. There is a common expression these days that “there is nothing you can do, Jesus did it all for you” which is misleading. Jesus did not believe for you. He did not repent for you, and He was not baptized for you. When Peter told the Jews who asked “what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37) what they should do (Acts 2:38), and then told them with many other words to “save yourselves from this perverse generation” (Acts 2:40), he was not denying that Jesus had paid the price for their sins, but he was affirming that the benefit of what Jesus did is not automatically applied to our account until and unless we meet these conditions. No one is saved by the blood of Christ until and unless they truly believe enough to meet these conditions: “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for remission of sins….” The gift is offered freely on those terms. Those who believe will “gladly receive his word” (Acts 2:41) and be baptized accordingly. Those who do not will be condemned (Mark 16:15-16).

Now, let us also observe that baptism is to be “in the name of Jesus Christ,” which is by His authority. On our own authority we could not be baptized and the act itself save us or give us remission of sins. But, baptism that is done in the name of Jesus Christ will be active faith that puts us in the position to have saved ourselves from this perverse generation. It is a separating act that cuts out sins and ties to a perverse generation of people and allows us to cross the Red Sea of Jesus’ blood to rise on the other side totally free from the past sins and now totally committed to the leadership of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior (I Corinthians 10:1-3; Romans 6:3-5; Colossians 2:12; Acts 22:16; Acts 8:33ff). 3,000 gladly received his word, were baptized, crossed over into the heavenly land, the heavenly places in Christ (Ephesians 1:3,7; Colossians 1:13), and were saved from sin and condemnation (Romans 8:1). They were now risen to new life in Christ with Christ as their head. This is what happens when a person gladly takes the exit route Jesus offers. This is how they were able to “save themselves.” This is how we must cut the ties we have to a perverse generation and save ourselves from the condemnation that is certain to come upon a world of spiritually blind people (II Corinthians 4:2-4). Jesus wants you to be saved (Matthew 11: 28ff; II Peter 3:9). Jesus died to pay for your sins. He told you what to do now to save yourself. Have you done it? If not, why not?

— Via Articles from the La Vista church of Christ
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News & Notes

We were sorry to hear of the recent passing of Richard Kristianson (Marie Pennock’s youngest brother).  Let us be praying for all his family and friends.

Also, as mentioned recently, we want to continue to remember in prayer the loved ones of Rick Hadley (Anita Young’s brother) who passed away September 13.

Mary Aldrich (Danny Bartlett’s mother) has been in rehab for about a week now, where she continues to improve.

Roger Montgomery, who had a kidney & liver transplant about 3 weeks ago, is still in the hospital. He is not doing well.

Danny Hutchinson still remains paralyzed in all but one arm and with just slight movement in the other. The massive brain bleed about 6 months ago has affected him like a stroke. He has also not spoken in all this time.

Jim Lively has often fallen over the last several months and still hasn’t found a good cure for his collagenous colitis.

Let us also continue to remember in prayer our shut-ins: Shirley Davis and Mary Vandevander.

Others to also remember in prayer: A.J. & Pat Joyner, Bennie & Deborah Medlock, Michelle Rittenhouse, Rex & Frankie Hadley, Tommy Lindsey, Hannah Laughlin, and Misty Thornton.
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“casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7, NASB).
——————–

The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation

1) Hear the gospel, for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30-31).
2) Believe in the deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9-10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3-4; Gal. 3:26-27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith, living for the Lord; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).
——————–

Tebeau Street
CHURCH OF CHRIST
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA  31501
Sunday services: 9:00 a.m. (Bible class); 10 a.m. & 5 p.m. (worship)
Tuesday: 2 p.m. (Ladies’ Bible class)
Wednesday: 7 p.m. (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (912) 614-8593
Tom@ThomasTEdwards.com
https://thegospelobserver.wordpress.com (Gospel Observer website with pictures in WordPress)
http://thomastedwards.com/go (Older version of Gospel Observer website without pictures, but back to March 1990)
http://tebeaustreetchurchofchrist.org/
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/audioser.html (audio sermons)

 

The Gospel Observer (September 16, 2018)

Contents:

1) Jesus Emptied Himself: A Basic Approach (Doy Moyer)
2) How Does the Spirit “Bear Witness?” (Greg Gwin)
3) News & Notes
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Phil2_5-7

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Jesus Emptied Himself: A Basic Approach
Doy Moyer

That Jesus “emptied himself” is not a debatable issue (Phil. 2:6-7). Of what he emptied himself, or exactly what that phrase means, has been an ancient debate. What I have to offer here may not solve any controversies, but I hope it will give some food for thought.

1. Any position which effectively destroys the deity of Jesus is wrong. This is the effect of the position that teaches Jesus gave up his divine attributes and characteristics. Those who teach this need to explain how Jesus could remain God while giving up the nature of God. The nature of something is the attributes and characteristics that make it what it is. If Jesus did not have the nature of God, he was not God (see Gal. 4:8).

2. The text does not say that Jesus emptied himself “of” anything. When we add “of” to the phrase, and then start enumerating upon what all he supposedly gave up to come to earth, we are not being faithful to the text. We are reading into the text what it does not say. As opposed to being “full of” himself (a modern idiom), he “emptied himself.” He did not empty himself “of” a bunch of things.

3. To insist that “emptied himself” should be taken literally to mean that Jesus had to dump something out of himself before he could take something else on is a misuse of the text. The text says, “He emptied himself, taking the form of a bond-servant.” That is self-explanatory. His taking on servanthood was a self-emptying act.

4. A good comparison can be made with Isaiah 53, a text describing the suffering Servant. Note in verse 12 the phrase, “He poured out himself to death.” Does that not have a striking resemblance to “emptied himself,” and “humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death” (Phil. 2:7-8)? As the suffering Servant, he emptied himself, poured himself out even to death.

5. The context of Philippians 2 itself shows what it means by the phrase “emptied himself.” Paul’s point of the text is to urge the brethren to be of the same mind, to be united and intent on one purpose (v. 2). To accomplish this, he instructs: “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others” (vv. 3-4). These are the instructions, but how does one do this? “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus” (v. 5). To reach the point of selflessness, one must look to Jesus. Why? Because he is the perfect example of these instructions. Though he himself is God, while on earth he did not grasp after his godhood by trying to exercise his own independent will apart from the Father (“did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped”). Rather, he “emptied himself,” which is the perfect phrase to describe the attitude of verses 3-4.

So what does it mean that Jesus “emptied himself”? Jesus Christ, in his role of the Servant, did nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but in lowliness of mind he regarded others as more important than himself. He looked out for the personal interests of others. How did he do this? Ultimately, by dying on the cross.

So, Paul’s point is that, as Jesus emptied himself, so must we all empty ourselves. It is simply another way of saying that we need to deny ourselves (Luke 9:23), for this is what Jesus did when he fulfilled his mission for a lost world. He set himself aside so that everything he did was selfless. Mark says it this way: “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). These passages say the same thing.

6. The idea that Jesus emptied himself of attributes and characteristics is completely foreign to Paul’s argument. He points to Jesus as our example of self-humiliation. If Jesus emptied out of himself a bunch of attributes, then how can we follow this example? We can’t divest ourselves of our human nature any more than he could divest his divine nature. The line of reasoning that Paul uses to say that we should be selfless becomes meaningless through such an interpretation. It is an attitude that he is teaching.

7. Very simply, then, the text tells us that we should empty ourselves. We should deny ourselves, doing nothing out of selfishness. We do this by taking the attitude of Jesus, the supreme example of self-denial. He emptied himself. As a servant, he completely submitted to the Father and poured out himself unto death. Afterwards, he was exalted. If we, too, will humble ourselves in like manner, God promises that we will be exalted (Jas. 4:10).

— Via The Auburn Beacon, June 4, 2017, Volume 8, Issue 38
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Eph6_17b

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How Does the Spirit “Bear Witness?”
Greg Gwin

Romans 8:16 says, “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.” The big question is, of course, how does He do this?

There are many that would suggest that the Spirit “bears witness” by means of some better-felt-than-told experience. Usually we are given an account of some episode that left the person with an overwhelming emotional feeling. Because of this experience the person claims salvation and is certain that it was the work of the Spirit that caused it all to happen.

There are some problems with this approach. First, as we study cases of conversion in the New Testament, we find not a single case of an individual who was saved through such an experience. In cases where individuals actually had supernatural “experiences,” they still had to hear the Word and obey its commands. (Saul – Acts 9; Cornelius – Acts 10; the Jailer – Acts 16, etc.)

Also, we are puzzled by the fact that various individuals who claim to have experienced this confirmation of the Spirit have differing views on fundamental doctrinal issues. We wonder how that could be if they are truly receiving some action directly from the Holy Spirit. Do you see the problem?

So, how does the Spirit “bear witness with our spirit that we are the children of God?” How can we have this confidence and confirmation of the Spirit?

The Holy Spirit through inspiration produced the written word of God. When we compare our lives with that perfect revelation, we are able to see if we have done those things that are commanded in order to be a child of God. Have you believed (Heb. 11:6), repented of sins (Lk. 13:3), confessed faith in Christ (Rom. 10:10), and been baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38)? Do you continue to faithfully serve the Lord (Rev. 2:10)? If so, the Spirit “bears witness” through the Scriptures that you are a child of God.

– Via The Beacon, September 11, 2018
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News & Notes

Our sympathies go out to the family and friends of Rick Hadley (Anita Young’s brother) who passed away September 13.  Let us remember all his family and friends in prayer.

Let us also include in our prayers the loved ones of Bob Pennock (Marie Pennock’s brother-in-law) who had also recently passed away.

Let us pray that a cure will be found for Jim Lively who has been having health difficulties, such as collagenous colitis, since his open heart surgery back in July 2016.

Let us also be remembering our shut-ins: Shirley Davis and Mary Vandevander.

Also for prayer: A.J. & Pat Joyner, Bennie & Deborah Medlock, Mary Aldrich, Danny Hutcheson, Roger Montgomery, and Michelle Rittenhouse.

We are glad to now have Gary and Barbara Thompson with us!
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The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation

1) Hear the gospel, for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30-31).
2) Believe in the deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9-10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3-4; Gal. 3:26-27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith, living for the Lord; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).
——————–

Tebeau Street
CHURCH OF CHRIST
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA  31501
Sunday services: 9:00 a.m. (Bible class); 10 a.m. & 5 p.m. (worship)
Tuesday: 2 p.m. (Ladies’ Bible class)
Wednesday: 7 p.m. (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (912) 614-8593
Tom@ThomasTEdwards.com
https://thegospelobserver.wordpress.com (Gospel Observer website with pictures in WordPress)
http://thomastedwards.com/go (Older version of Gospel Observer website without pictures, but back to March 1990)
http://tebeaustreetchurchofchrist.org/
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/audioser.html (audio sermons)

 

The Gospel Observer (September 9, 2011)

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20, NASB).
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Contents:

1) Divine Authority and Human Relations (Connie W. Adams)
2) News & Notes
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relationships

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Divine Authority and Human Relations
Connie W. Adams

When Satan tempted Jesus to make stones into bread, Jesus responded by saying, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4). This was a reference to the incident recorded in Deuteronomy 8 when God gave the Israelites manna in the wilderness. He gave specific instructions as to how much to gather for a day’s supply. Any more than that would breed worms and stink and they could not use it. They were to look beyond the actual manna to the source of their very existence. God was their provider and they were answerable to him. So it is in all human relations. The God who made the world and who made us has the right to command, to direct, and to enforce obedience. He also has the right to enact punishment upon the disobedient.

Order in the Family

Concerning the family Jesus said, “Have you not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, and said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they two shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more two, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder” (Matt. 19:4-6). Marriage was created by God, even as he created the universe and set in motion the laws by which it is ordered. As God made man and determined the bounds of his habitation, even so God made marriage and set in motion the laws by which it functions. Notice that “at the beginning” he made them male and female. That denies evolution, even the theistic brand. Both male and female were distinctly formed by God and that was done “at the beginning.”

Notice further that in marriage male and female become one. There is a perfect and intimate union of mind, soul, and body. They function not as adversaries, or competitors, but with one heart and soul. This union is a divine creation and it is just as damaging to disregard that as it is to reject God’s authority in the natural creation. For man to “put asunder” what “God hath joined together” is to invite great harm upon this relationship. The balance of moral behavior is poised upon the permanence and stability of God’s divine order for the family. To “put asunder” what God has joined together is to tear down the basic unit of all orderly human society. No wonder such violation of divine authority results in broken hearts, devastated children, rebellious behavior, hatred, and every evil work. Malice, bitterness, jealousy, envy, hatred, lying, cheating, stealing, and murder often follow in the wake of man’s presumption in tearing apart what God joined together.

There is something else here worthy of note and that is that marriage is more than a social or civil ceremony. While the customs and laws of man require certain things which validate a marriage in any given culture (and devout people ought to respect such things), it is God who creates the bond. Only divinely expressed authority can sever that. Death severs this bond (Rom. 7:1-3). In the context of the passage we are considering (Matt. 19), Jesus taught that fornication grants the injured party the right to put away the guilty (v. 9). But while we debate the exception, let it not be forgotten that there is a rule here. It is simply that God created marriage. He establishes the bond and man is not to put it asunder. Any violation of what he taught about it flaunts divine authority. That cannot be done without a price to pay.

Order in the Civil Government

The same divine power that created the universe, made man in his image, designed the family and fashioned the laws by which each of these is ordered, designed civil government for the good of mankind. “Let every soul be subject to the higher power, for there is no power but of God and the powers that be are ordained of God” (Rom. 13:1). Without specifying any one form of civil rule over another, God still ordained “the powers that be.” By divine authority they function. Peter clearly stated the design of civil government. “Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well” (1 Pet. 2:13-14).

It is the duty of civil rulers to “punish the evil doers.” Lawbreakers, the rebellious, those who do not respect the rule of law, are not to be tolerated. They are to be punished. In every dispensation this principle is revealed. In Genesis 9:6 God said, “Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed.” It is this same principle revealed in the law of Moses which contained over 30 instances in which capital punishment was to be inflicted. Ezra spelled out the demand for punishment upon the law-breakers, showing the punishment suited to the seriousness of the crime. “And whosoever will not do the law of thy God, and the law of the king, let judgment be executed speedily upon him, whether it be unto death, or to banishment, or to confiscation of goods, or to imprisonment” (Ezra 7:26). Note that whatever punishment was to be administered to suit the nature of the crime, it was to be done “speedily” (KJV, NKJV). The New American Standard Version reads “strictly.” There was to be no dalliance. The offender was not to “get off.” The punishment was exact, determined beforehand according to the offense and it was to be executed with speed. Solomon added that failure to carry out sentence against an evil work “speedily” would cause the hearts of men to be set on evil (Eccl. 8:11). Is strict punishment a deterrent to crime? The Lord thought so and revealed it through inspired men. The whole debate on this issue now springs from a lack of respect for the divine authority of the Almighty.

In the New Testament, Paul said the civil ruler is “the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil” (Rom. 13:4). The civil ruler has a “sword,” a weapon of force. Who gave it to him? By what right does he use it? “He is the minister of God, a revenger, to execute wrath on him that doeth evil.” Civil law exercised without prompt and certain punishment for those who violate that law, opens the door to anarchy. When policemen are stripped of power, when the system is rigged in favor of the criminal and his “rights” transcend those of his victims, then justice is perverted and an escalation in crime is inevitable. When cases are decided without regard to the evidence and verdicts are based on emotion in spite of clear evidence, then the rule of law has suffered a serious blow.

Peter said the rulers are also to “praise those who do well.” The rights and safety of those who are submissive to law must be secured by rulers. The greatest asset which law enforcement has is the presence of God-fearing, law-abiding citizens who are not only concerned with their “rights” but the “rights” of others as well. People who pay their debts, go to work on time, work hard, and observe the laws (whether the speed limit, the requirement for hunting or fishing licenses), rear decent and honorable children, and who practice the Golden Rule are benefactors to the powers that be. They ought to be encouraged in right doing. Any time laws are slanted to punish people for doing right, then God’s will is not done. When married people are taxed at a higher rate than those who simply “live together” then evil is encouraged and those who do well are disadvantaged. Instead of mocking and working to punish those who live by the law, not just out of fear of punishment, but because they believe this to be the will of God, civil rulers ought to protect and praise those who do well, as Peter said. Something surely is out of whack in these times! What is the real problem? It is disrespect for God who authorized civil government.

— Via Navarre Messenger, May 21, 2017
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News & Notes

We extend our condolences to the family and friends of Bob Pennock (Marie Pennock’s brother-in-law) who recently passed away.

Melotine Davis had not been feeling well.

Jim Lively has continued to have health difficulties since his surgery back in July 2016.

Let us also be remembering our shut-ins: Shirley Davis and Mary Vandevander.

Also for prayer: A.J. & Pat Joyner, Bennie & Deborah Medlock, Mary Aldrich, Richard Kristianson, Danny Hutcheson, Roger Montgomery, and Michelle Rittenhouse.
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The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation

1) Hear the gospel, for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30-31).
2) Believe in the deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9-10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3-4; Gal. 3:26-27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith, living for the Lord; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).
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Tebeau Street
CHURCH OF CHRIST
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA  31501
Sunday services: 9:00 a.m. (Bible class); 10 a.m. & 5 p.m. (worship)
Tuesday: 2 p.m. (Ladies’ Bible class)
Wednesday: 7 p.m. (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (912) 614-8593
Tom@ThomasTEdwards.com
https://thegospelobserver.wordpress.com (Gospel Observer website with pictures in WordPress)
http://thomastedwards.com/go (Older version of Gospel Observer website without pictures, but back to March 1990)
http://tebeaustreetchurchofchrist.org/
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/audioser.html (audio sermons)

The Gospel Observer (September 2, 2018)

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20, NASB).
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Contents:

1) Predestination (Kelly Ellis)
2) Jesus Washed Feet, Should We? (J.F. Dancer)
3) Who Is Your Father? (Wayne Goff)
4) Does God Tempt Man? (Tom Edwards)
5) News & Notes
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2Pe3_9b

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Predestination
Kelly Ellis

The Calvinistic concept of the predestination of men — apart from their will and choice — issues from the false assumption that men are “born in sin” having inherited the original sin of Adam; and, “being wholly inclined to evil,” with no good in them, such a condition required an “unconditional election” on the part of God. This election limited the atonement of Christ to the “elect,” who are saved by the “irresistible grace of God,” and will therefore, never be able to forfeit their right to eternal life. On the other hand, all who are not of the “elect” are completely shut off from the grace of God that He has extended to all men through Christ, and are eternally consigned to damnation and separation from God in the world to come. This doctrine stands opposed to New Testament teaching on at least 5 points:

1. It makes God a respecter of persons in that He has predestinated some to eternal life and others to eternal damnation: this is contrary to the very nature of God (Romans 2:11; Deuteronomy 32:4).

2. It makes God responsible for the loss of souls in hell; but the New Testament teaches that He is not “willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (II Peter 3:9). He “would have all men to be saved” (I Timothy 2:4).

3. It destroys man’s power of choice. If my destiny is already sealed, there is nothing I can do to change it; I have no choice open to me, and my will cannot be exercised in any way whatever. However, the Bible says, “Choose you this day whom ye will serve” (Joshua 24:15), and the “Spirit and the bride say, Come … and whosoever WILL, let him take the water of life freely” (Revelation 22:17).  Jesus said, “If any man WILL” (John 7:17).

4. It nullifies the commission of Christ (Mark 16:15-16). If one’s eternal destiny has already been determined by the Father, why preach to him?

5. The whole system makes man an irresponsible being. If man is born in sin, if he is a sinner by birth, he is not responsible for those transgressions. But man does not inherit sin — he commits it (Ezekiel 18:1-24). This passage also teaches that man does not inherit righteousness; he does it.

— via Eastside church of Christ, December 31, 2017
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Jesus Washed Feet, Should We?
J.F. Dancer

In John 13, after Jesus had instituted the Lord’s Supper, we find that he washed his disciples’ feet (vs. 4-16). Many times the question arises, “Since Jesus washed the feet of his disciples, should we not wash one another’s feet?” Some in the denominational world have used this as justification to have a “foot washing service” as a part of the worship to God.

Washing feet is also mentioned in Luke 7 where a woman washed the feet of Jesus with her tears and wiped them with her hair. Then it is mentioned in 1 Timothy 5 as one of the deeds that would characterize some widows.

The usual mode of travel in Jesus’ day was walking. The roads and pathways were usually dusty. One of the signs of hospitality in that time was to wash (or, have a servant to wash) the feet of a guest when they arrived in your house. This seems to be the thought in Luke 7 and seems to be given as a symbol of hospitality in 1 Timothy 5. It is certain that the lesson Jesus taught in John 13 was that of humility and service.

Saints still need to be humble in the sight of God (James 4:10) and in this humility be willing to do anything they can to relieve the distress of another — including washing their body (not just feet). We should show hospitality to those who visit us, but washing another’s feet is not necessarily the only way to manifest this. And, we all (not just widows) should be active in doing good deeds.

To go through a ceremony of washing another’s feet when they don’t need washing is NOT a show of humility nor godliness. So far as I can see it is NOT something to be done in worship to God.

Let us leave it as the Bible does — a symbol of hospitality and good works. Let us manifest hospitality in other ways and do all good works expected by God — but let us not fall into a ritual of washing feet in applying the Scripture improperly.

– Via The Beacon (from the Collegevue church of Christ), June 27, 2017
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Who Is Your Father?
Wayne Goff

I would suppose that it goes without saying that most, if not all, of us know who our earthly father is. But who is your spiritual Father?

If you’re reading this article, then you would probably say that God is your spiritual Father. That’s the right answer, but how do you know for sure? The Jewish enemies of Jesus claimed that Jehovah was their Father, but Jesus denied it and said that the Devil was their father! What a difference that is! So let’s suggest a few proofs that tell us who is really your father:

If God is your Father, then you trust Him with all your heart. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5). While Jesus was on earth in a position of subservience, He learned to put His trust in the Father (Hebrews 2:13). We must do the same.

If God is your Father, then you believe what He says.  Jesus said, “He who is of God hears God’s words…” (Jn. 8:47). It is not enough to say that God is our Father, we must demonstrate it by that in which we believe.

If God is your Father, then you delight in His company. “Therefore submit to God. … Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts you doubleminded” (James 4:7a, 8). God’s house of worship is your delight: “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go into the house of the LORD’” (Psalm 122:1).

If God is your Father, then you strive to be like Him. “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:44-45).

There are other proofs of sonship, but these are sufficient to give you something by which to examine yourselves. Who IS your father?

— Via articles of the Roanridge church of Christ, June 17, 2018
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Does God Tempt Man?
Tom Edwards

“Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone” (James 1:13, NASB).

“And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham…” (Gen. 22:1, KJV).

The above verses might sound to be contradicting each other, but not when we understand how the word “tempt” is being used.

Though we probably think of the word to primarily involve the tempting of someone to do evil, it also has an obsolete meaning, according to Webster, of “to try or test.” In that sense, we can easily think of God who did not tempt Abraham to do wrong, but was testing him to see if he would do right.

Many modern Bible translations render the Hebrew word for “tempt” as “tested” (or another form of that word) in Genesis 22:1. For the particular Hebrew word for it (H5254) is primarily defined as “to test, try, prove, tempt, assay, put to the proof or test” (Brown-Driver-Briggs’ Hebrew Definitions).
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News & Notes

People to continue remembering in prayer:

Mary Aldrich (Danny Bartlett’s mother) has now been in the hospital about 3.5 weeks, due to a bursting of the bowels.  She is recovering, but slowly.  Her transference to a rehabit clinic September 5 lasted only one day before she had to return to the hospital.

Seeing a chiropractor does bring some relief to Baxter Cribbs for maybe 1 to 3 days.  He has been suffering pain in his back for the last couple months because of a nerve on a spinal disc.

Richard Kristianson (Marie Pennock’s youngest brother) has been dealing with pancreatic cancer for about 5 years, having tried various treatments.  Lately, he has been having a little more difficulty with it.

After going to the ER three times, following  hernia surgery (Aug. 9), and developing a new problem (Aug. 25-29) that kept me rather sleep-deprived for 5 days and 4 nights, I (Tom Edwards) finally started feeling better again and was able to have a good night’s rest on the night of the 29th and 30th., though I’m still having to use a catheter.  UPDATE: On September 10, I learned that I also have a urinary track infection which I am now on medication for.  I’m hoping and praying that eliminating the infection will also eliminate the need for the catheter.  My next appointment with the urologist will be September 19, and I will found out, after that, if I can do without it.

Others to also remember in prayer: Danny Hutcheson (paralysis of all but one arm), Rick Hadley (congestive heart failure), Jim Lively (collagenous colitis), the friends and family of Minnie Lanier (Bennie’s sister who recently passed away), Shirley Davis (pain in legs and shoulder),  Bennie Medlock (aortic aneurysm), Deborah Medlock (still sore from a recent fall), Pat & A.J. Joyner, Rex & Frankie Hadley, Tommy Lindsey, Hannah Laughlin, Misty Thornton, Michelle Rittenhouse, and Mary Vandevander.
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The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation

1) Hear the gospel, for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30-31).
2) Believe in the deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9-10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3-4; Gal. 3:26-27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith, living for the Lord; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).
——————–

Tebeau Street
CHURCH OF CHRIST
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA  31501
Sunday services: 9:00 a.m. (Bible class); 10 a.m. & 5 p.m. (worship)
Tuesday: 2 p.m. (Ladies’ Bible class)
Wednesday: 7 p.m. (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (912) 614-8593
Tom@ThomasTEdwards.com
https://thegospelobserver.wordpress.com (Gospel Observer website with pictures in WordPress)
http://thomastedwards.com/go (Older version of Gospel Observer website without pictures, but back to March 1990)
http://tebeaustreetchurchofchrist.org/
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/audioser.html (audio sermons)